July 24, 2008
By Danny Mattie
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- The Colorado State department of athletics announced Thursday the winners of its annual awards, recognizing the top male and female student-athletes for their contributions to the success of Rams athletics.
Senior track and field athletes Jason Schutz, Janay DeLoach and April Thomas - who also ran cross country at CSU - were honored along with senior swimmer Tara Staley and junior Jeff Horinek of the CSU football team.
Nye Trophy • Jason Schutz • Men's Track & Field
Schutz has been selected as the recipient of the Nye Trophy, the department's oldest continuing honor, given annually to the most outstanding male athlete since its inception in 1929. The Nye Trophy, named for Colonel E.L. Nye, a former professor of pathology and bacteriology who lettered in track at CSU (1913-14 and 1919) and his brother, Dr. William Nye, who lettered multiple times in football, basketball and track and field from 1915-19, is given annually to a senior who is in good academic standing and has observed all the rules of training and competition, while showing character and conduct in keeping with the highest tradition of CSU.
Schutz, from Chromo, Colo., turned in another outstanding performance for the Rams track and field program in 2008, earning All-America honors for the second consecutive year in the discus, finishing sixth in the nation at the NCAA Championships with a throw of 186-3. He won the discus event at the 2008 Midwest Regional and competed in two events (hammer throw) at the NCAA Championships. Schutz also earned three all-MWC honors in 2008 including in the indoor weight throw and the outdoor hammer throw and discus. In addition, Shutz earned academic all-MWC honors in 2008.
Virginia K. Frank Award • Janay DeLoach • Women's Track & Field
For the second consecutive year, DeLoach has been named as the recipient of the Virginia K. Frank Award, given annually since 1976 to the most outstanding female athlete. The Frank Award is donated by the alumni association in honor of Frank's outstanding leadership and coaching during her 16-year tenure at CSU, where she developed and directed women's athletics while it was a part of the Women's Recreation Association. Frank was also chosen as the first woman to receive the Outstanding Professor Award from CSU in 1963.
DeLoach, from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., became just the third female track and field athlete in school history to earn multiple All-America honors in the same season when she accomplished the feat in 2008 with top honors in both the long jump and the 100 meters, and also earned all-MWC recognition in both events. DeLoach was selected as an MWC Scholar Athlete and earned academic all-MWC honors. She becomes just the fourth repeat winner in the award's 33-year history, joining Loree Smith (track and field, 2004-05), Becky Hammon (basketball, 1998-99), and Amy Brookover (swimming, 1989-90) as the only two-time recipients of the award.
Merrill-Gheen Award • Jeff Horinek • Football
Horinek has been honored for his work both on the playing field and in the classroom, earning the Merrill-Gheen Award, presented annually since 1958 to the most outstanding male scholar athlete. The Merrill-Gheen Award, named after Russell Merrill, a former CSU baseball player, and Joseph Gheen, the award's original sponsor who donated anonymously and was posthumously added to the award, is presented to an outstanding athlete based upon his record in activities, athletics and academics with equal emphasis on all three.
Horinek anchored the Rams defense as a junior in 2007. A native of Atwood, Kan., Horinek earned honorable mention all-conference honors, leading the team with 94 tackles (46 solo) while contributing 4½ tackles for loss, ½ sack and three passes broken up. He tied for ninth in the MWC with a team-leading 7.8 tackles per game and tied for second in the conference with four double-digit tackle games. With a 3.92 grade-point average as a health and exercise science major, he earned academic all-district recognition from CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine.
Mencimer Memorial Award • April Thomas • Women's Cross Country/Track & Field
Thomas, who turned in one of the most dominant years ever by a CSU athlete in track and field and cross country, and was equally adept in the classroom, has been selected as the recipient of the Mencimer Memorial Award, presented to the most outstanding female scholar athlete since 1976. The Mencimer Memorial Award, was initiated by Barbara Mencimer-Maxfield, a nine-sport student-athlete at CSU, in honor of her parents, Catherine and Floyd Mencimer, both former Colorado A&M athletes, to encourage female athletes and acknowledge their excellence.
Thomas' excellence both on the track and in the classroom were acknowledged time and time again, as the senior from Aurora, Colo., earned the Mountain West Conference's highest honor when she was selected as the Female Athlete of the Year, becoming just the second athlete in CSU history (Liz Toman, track and field, 2000-01) to earn that designation. Thomas won the 2007 MWC cross country individual championship and led the Rams women's team to the first MWC cross country title in school history. She also contributed to the first women's outdoor track and field conference championship. Graduating summa cum laude in May with a 4.0 grade-point average, Thomas earned her degree in biological sciences with a minor in business administration. Thomas also collected first-team all-conference, all-region, academic all-conference and MWC Scholar Athlete awards throughout the 2007-08 season. In addition to her academic and athletic pursuits, Thomas was involved in numerous outreach activities, most notably participating in a mentoring program for children.
Thurman "Fum" McGraw Award • Tara Staley • Swimming & Diving
The Thurman "Fum" McGraw Award, the newest award presented annually since 2000, is given to the most outstanding overall student-athlete who embodies academic and athletic excellence, character, leadership, service, concern for others and unwavering Ram pride, the characteristics that best defined the spirit and essence of McGraw, the legendary student-athlete, coach and administrator, and most recognizable presence in CSU athletics history.
Staley, from Las Vegas, Nev., made a name for herself as a student-athlete who was as revered for her energy, leadership, sportsmanship and initiative, as for her performance in the pool. A top performer for the Rams swimming and diving program and a 2008 academic all-MWC performer, Staley's biggest contributions to CSU athletics may have come away from Moby Pool, as a key volunteer in many of CSU's community outreach and volunteer events - including the annual blood drive and Ram Jam events - and as a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), where she was active for many years and served as president for the 2007-08 school year.